Qatada held in new deportation bid

Abu Qatada was described by a judge as Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe

Abu Qatada was described by a judge as Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe

First published in National News © by

Radical cleric Abu Qatada has been arrested as the Government prepared to set out its next steps in sending him back to Jordan.

Officers from the UK Border Agency arrested the 51-year-old in London, the Home Office said. The move came as Home Secretary Theresa May prepared to update MPs on the steps being taken to deport Qatada, described by a judge as Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe.

A Home Office spokesman said: "UK Border Agency officers have today (Tuesday) arrested Abu Qatada and told him that we intend to resume deportation proceedings against him. The Home Secretary will make a statement to Parliament later."

Europe's human rights judges have ruled Qatada cannot be deported to Jordan without assurances that evidence gained through torture will not be used in his upcoming terror trial. Mrs May will address MPs as the deadline for any appeal to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights passes at midnight.

She is not expected to appeal as the Home Office has been working to secure a deal with the Jordanian government in which it would give guarantees that torture evidence would not be used. But any move to deport him with these assurances is likely to be challenged in court by Qatada's legal team.

Qatada's legal team will apply for bail at a hearing at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission in central London this afternoon, the Judicial Communications Office said.

Lawyers for the Home Secretary will need to convince the commission that it has secured the assurances that Europe's human rights judges said were needed before Qatada could be deported.

But Qatada's legal team could still appeal, possibly even taking the case back to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), before he could be put on a plane in a process which could take months.

Qatada, 51, also known as Omar Othman, was convicted in his absence in Jordan of involvement with terror attacks in 1998 and now faces a retrial in Jordan. He has also featured in hate sermons found on videos in the flat of one of the September 11 bombers.

Since 2001, when fears of the domestic terror threat rose in the aftermath of the attacks, he has challenged, and ultimately thwarted, every attempt by the Government to detain and deport him. But if Qatada does not appeal, the earliest he could be deported is April 30, it is understood.

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